Zhou Lingzhao¨s Year of the Dog stamps released

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2018-01-08 15:25:54

   Graphic designer and artist Zhou Lingzhao, 99, still remembers his best friend in childhood, an indigenous dog his family kept in his native village in Central China's Hunan province.

  "The black dog often accompanied me when I went into town," said Zhou, a retired professor at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts. "He protected me from the aggression of wild dogs wandering on a mountain slope."

  A year ago, Zhou was commissioned by China Post to design the postal stamp to celebrate the Year of the Dog on the Chinese lunar calendar, which will begin Feb 26. He recalled the dog, and recreated it on one stamp.

  And he paired it with another stamp on which he drew a mother dog and a puppy, both of the same indigenous breed which is often referred to as the "zhonghua tianyuan quan", or China rural dog.

   The two stamps were issued nationwide Friday. Each bears a face price of 1.2 yuan (18.5 US cents).

  The motif of the stamps highlights canine royalty and a blessing for being safe and sound, said Li Guohua, general manager of China Post.

  He says it also wishes for a good fortune, as "wang"! the Chinese word for a dog's woof ! is pronounced the same as a character meaning prosperity.

  Annually since 1980, China Post has issued special stamps featuring one Chinese zodiac animal corresponding to a lunar year. The dog for the upcoming Chinese New Year is the 11th in this repeating cycle of 12 animals.

  China Post has commissioned renowned artists to design the stamps for Chinese New Year, including Han Meilin for the Year of the Rooster in 2017 and Huang Yongyu for the Year of the Monkey in 2016.

   Zhou is hailed as a top visual designer of New China. At the age of 30, he and his wife Chen Ruoju crafted the first portrait of late chairman Mao Zedong that was hung on the Tian'anmen Gate, before the inauguration ceremony of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949.

  Zhou was also involved in the designs of the national emblem and a former series of Renminbi notes.

  This is his second time to design New Year stamps for China Post. He previously created another Year of the Dog stamp, in 1982. He drew from decorative patterns and a vibrant palette of Chinese ethnic groups.

  "He reduced the decorative elements this time, but he adopts a simple and true-to-life style," said daughter Zhou Rong, adding he wants to highlight the physical features and temperament of Chinese indigenous dogs.

   The collection of Chinese New Year stamps still enjoys a huge fanbase across the country, though few people today need a stamp for mailing a postcard or letter.

  In cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, stamp buyers waited in lines outside post offices before opening hours Friday, according to Li.

  Meanwhile, an exhibition showing Zhou's stamp designs and all New Year stamps that have been issued by China Post is now running at the Museum of National Post and Postage Stamp in Beijing through February.